We report the sad news that longtime system dynamicist R. Geoffrey Coyle died on November 19, 2012. Geoff was 74. He started his career as a mining engineer. Having completed a PhD in Operations Research, he came to Cambridge, Massachusetts from the UK in the late 1960’s, and studied with Jay Forrester to learn system dynamics. Upon his return to the UK, he started to develop system dynamics in England. He was the founder of the first system dynamics group in the UK, at the University of Bradford in 1970. This group grew terrifically and produced some of the most important people in our field. Geoff and his students have made enormously important contributions to the field and the next generation of their students have as well, all following in Geoff’s footsteps and under his tutelage.
Geoff and the Bradford group also founded the first system dynamics journal, Dynamica. They created DYSMAP, the first system dynamics software that had built-in optimization and built-in dimensional consistency technique.
Geoff authored a number of very important books in the field including: Management in System Dynamics (1977), System Dynamics Modelling: A Practical Approach (1996) and Practical Strategy: Tools and Techniques (2004). In 1998, he was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the System Dynamics Society. More recently he returned to his first academic love and wrote a highly acclaimed history of mining in the UK: The riches beneath our feet (2010). This is a wonderful legacy in the field of system dynamics and beyond.
I realized that, while I’ve always enjoyed his irascibly interesting presentations, I’ve only read a few of his works. So, I’ve collected a Coyle reading list:
The complete Dynamica archive, including some Coyle papers:
- Practical Industrial Application of System Dynamics
- Technical Note: The Calculation of Average Age of a Group of Items
- Modelling the Future of Mining Group
- Technical Notes: An Equation for Modelling Market Share
- An Approach to the Formulation of Equations for Performance Indices
- System Dynamics – the State-of-the-Art
- Accounting for Depreciation
- Modelling Discrete Events in System Dynamics
- A Model of the Dynamics of the Third World War – An Exercise in Technology Transfer
- Modelling the Discrete Ordering of Hydroelectric Projects – The Argentinian Case
System Dynamics Conference papers
- The Strategic Dynamics of Counter-Insurgency Warfare
- Discrete Versus Continuous Formulation: A Case Study Using Coyle’s Aircraft Carrier Survivability Model (by Rod MacDonald, examining Coyle’s model – see SDR article #5 below)
- The Validation of Commercial System Dynamics Models
- Qualitative Modelling in System Dynamics or What are the Wise Limits of Quantification
- Development Of A Suite Of Operation and Support Cost Analysis Models (OSCAM) for the Defence
Community (abstract only)
System Dynamics Review articles
The use of optimization methods for policy design in a system dynamics model Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 1985, Pages: 81–91, R. Geoffrey Coyle
System dynamics at Bradford University: a Silver Jubilee review Volume 13, Issue 4, Winter 1997, Pages: 311–321, Geoff Coyle
Two approaches to qualitative modelling of a nation’s drugs trade Volume 13, Issue 3, Autumn (Fall) 1997, Pages: 205–222, R. G. Coyle and M. D. W. Alexander
A system dynamics model of aircraft carrier survivability Volume 8, Issue 3, Autumn (Fall) 1992, Pages: 193–212, R. G. Coyle – See Rod MacDonald’s 1996 SD conference paper, above, which as I recall led to a heated debate.
The validation of commercial system dynamics models Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring 2000, Pages: 27–41, Geoff Coyle and David Exelby
Qualitative and quantitative modelling in system dynamics: some research questions Volume 16, Issue 3, Autumn (Fall) 2000, Pages: 225–244, Geoff Coyle
Volume 17, Issue 4, Winter 2001, Pages: 347–355, Jack Homer and Rogelio Oliva
Volume 14, Issue 4, Winter 1998, Pages: 341–342,
The practice of system dynamics: milestones, lessons and ideas from 30 years experience Volume 14, Issue 4, Winter 1998, Pages: 343–365, Geoff Coyle
The next three articles make up an interesting interchange, which I wrote about in Diagrams vs. Models:
Coyle’s Lifetime Achievement Award:
- A Model of the Dynamics of the Third World War – now there’s an eye-catching title for a journal article. Too bad it’s paywalled from me!
- Management System Dynamics (1977)
- System Dynamics Modelling: A Practical Approach (1996)
- Practical Strategy: Tools and Techniques (2004)
- The riches beneath our feet (2010)
This truly is a rich legacy, and of course you can follow citations to many more papers that show Coyle’s influence.
What’s your favorite?